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Fremd put together its best half of basketball Thursday, and that was more than enough to advance to Friday's night semifinal in the 36th Annual Wildcat Hardwood Classic at Wheeling.
Unbeaten Fremd won its 11th straight game, a 56-40 decision over Niles North (8-3). It put the game away in the first half with a suffocating defensive effort. Only once has a team scored more than 40 points against Fremd, and that goes back to the third game of the season.
Fremd will face Naperville Central at 8:45 p.m. in the second semifinal, following the St. Viator-Prospect game at 7:15.
The Mid-Suburban League Vikings led 15-5 after the first quarter and stretched their lead over the Central Suburban League Vikings to 34-14 at halftime.
Fremd's Riley Glassmann scored 18 of his game-high 24 points in the first half, and Ben Carlson 8 of his 18.
"We combined good defense and excellent offensive execution," Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. "We got good looks, and we finished.
"That defense is the best we've played all season," Widlowski said. "It was rock solid all the way across. (Matthew) Ochoa and (Xavier) Williams did a real nice job on Duante Stephens. It's the best we've played to this point."
Stephens didn't score until 1:04 remained in the second quarter and finished with 7 points before coach Glenn Olson pulled his starters in the fourth quarter.
"Without a doubt, it was our defense," Glassmann said. "Ochoa and Williams shut Duante down."
"The first half is the best we've played (on defense)," Carlson said.
Carlson (8), Glassman (6), Ochoa (5) and Williams (5) combined to outrebound Niles North, and Williams also dished out 2 assists and grabbed 2 steals.
Fremd forced 10 turnovers in the first half, and the Vikes took full advantage. They turned a 22-11 lead to 32-11 in less than 2 minutes Glassman scored 7 points in a row, including 1 3-pointer, and Ochoa converted a 3-point play in that 10-point spurt.
Fremd stretched the lead to 46-18 midway through the third quarter thanks to an 8-point outburst by Carlson.
Danillo Ranger and Diondre Williams led Niles North with 8 points each.